England v Ireland: England player ratings


15. Mike Brown: 9
For a man who has been consistently excellent in an England shirt, this was another level up. Brown did not put a foot wrong, making metres every time he gathered the ball, ending with 82 made in total and beating five defenders along the way. His role in England’s try saw him join the line (something his detractors say he must do more of) to take a brilliant pass from Robshaw, before successfully drawing two defenders and sending Danny Care in under the posts. Superlatives roll off the tongue, and rightly so.

14. Jack Nowell: 6
A thoroughly mixed bag for Nowell. There were glimpses of what he can do as he carried the ball menacingly on occasion, but never managed to get away from the defence. And then there were the silly errors, such as the dropped hight ball under very little pressure. Cut those out, and he will be a good international player – but he must do so soon.

13. Luther Burrell: 7
Another reasonably quiet game from Burrell, but he did what little he had to do well. When he carried he made it over the gainline, and despite a few missed tackles he was generally solid in defence. Yet to show his Northampton form on the international stage, however, and will be looking over his shoulder for the return of Tuilagi.

12. Billy Twelvetrees: 6.5
Twelvetrees was busy defensively, making 16 tackles but also missing four, which is not as good a return as he would have hoped for. There were a few occasions also when he put his head down and ran into traffic rather than opening the game up. The frustration is that everyone knows he is capable of better.

11. Jonny May: 7
Had he finished the try in the opening minutes his score would be a full point higher. Once he chose to step inside rather than pass to the man outside, he had to score, and that he didn’t was poor – despite it being down in large parts to some excellent scramble defence. Still, he rallied well in the second half with several darting breaks, always seeming to beat the first man.

10. Owen Farrell: 7
A good performance was almost ruined by a moment of the old petulance that blights his game at times, and he was lucky to stay on the pitch for the full 80 minutes. Other than that, his tactical kicking was excellent and he seems much more comfortable standing flatter now – the brilliant try began with his pass to get Robshaw on the outside of D’Arcy.

9. Danny Care: 8.5
Another excellent performance from the scrum-half. On a couple of occasions when Mike Brown broke the line, he lacked support, but for England’s try Care arrived on his shoulder at precisely the right moment, and reaped the rewards as he scampered in under the posts. Much better box-kicking, too.

1. Joe Marler: 7
Didn’t miss a tackle all day and had Mike Ross contorting in the scrums on a couple of occasions. Solid if unspectacular from Marler, exactly what you want from your props.

2. Dylan Hartley: 7.5
Flawless at the lineout once again, and a pillar of physicality in amongst this impressive English pack. Has stuck his head out in front of Youngs in the battle for the starting hooker jersey.

3. Davey Wilson: 7
Considering his lack of game time, Wilson played superbly well for the majority of the game. He was bent out of shape by Healy at the first scrum, at which point many England fans would have been fearing the worst for the rest of the game, but to his credit he rallied well and more than held his own for the rest of the game.

4. Joe Launchbury: 9
The man was everywhere, pilfering at the breakdown and charging into tackles. Deserved to share the MOTM award with Brown. The tap tackle on Dave Kearney in the final minutes probably saved a try, and was every bit as important as the brilliant score earlier on. Quite how he managed to make it, after 75 minutes of grunt work in all corners of the pitch, is astonishing. Finished with 18 tackles in total, second only to Robshaw.

5. Courtney Lawes: 7
Only carried four times, but picked his moments well to return 26 metres from those carries. Took some important lineouts and didn’t miss any tackles, but did concede a few needless penalties.

6. Tom Wood: 7
Brilliant try saving tackle in the first half on Trimble stopped Ireland from getting a foothold in the tame, and he continued in the same vein for most of the game working quietly but effectively.

7. Chris Robshaw: 8.5
England’s captain again led by example, topping the tackle stats with 22 and was often the first man to the breakdown. Aside from that there was a rare moment of eye-catching play from the flanker, when he showed an impressive yard of pace to get outside Gordon D’Arcy and then offload to the rampaging Mike Brown, who charged up field to set up England’s crucial try.

8. Billy Vunipola: 6
Perhaps didn’t have as much of an impact as usual in his 36 minutes on the pitch, but there were still glimpses of his powerful carrying game and everyone associated with England will be hoping he gets back to fitness soon.

Replacements: 8
The bench was used very sensibly. Ben Morgan was forced into action early but proved that England have a more than capable replacement for Vunipola with a performance that showcased not only his power but also his workrate – he was England’s fourth highest tackler, despite playing only 44 minutes.

Henry Thomas acquitted himself well, to everyone’s great relief, to the extent that Healy was substituted after just one scrum against him (although that may well have been planned anyway). Much of this, however, was down to the entrance of Dave Attwood, who scrummaged behind Thomas, which proved a shrewd move from Lancaster.

Tom Youngs and Mako Vunipola also both upped the defensive work rate at a crucial time, while all the backs were left on the bench – the correct decision.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

98 thoughts on “England v Ireland: England player ratings

  1. Having criticised SL for his subs against France – moving Launch to 6 to accomodate Attwood was exactly the right thisng to do.

    For me though Launchbury deserves a 10 he was my MoM, absolutelty phenomenal. And very gald for once that Robshaw has been given a posotive review without the usual BUT he isn’t a proper openside tedium. Back row looks perfectly balanced to me. I do worry about our scrum, especially with Wales knack of winning penalties though constant collapses!

  2. I think Wilson’s 7 is a mark or so too high, let’s remember he got battered in the scrum. I know he probably got some leniency due to him only just coming back from injury, but it’s a bit generous.

    Would also say May, Farrell and Burrell are a point too high. Burrell was just average, which to me is a 6 (very subjective I know), Farrell mark down for his annoying petulance. Irritating when the rest of his game is improving so rapidly. May left two tries out there, which for a winger isn’t good enough. Also, May runs sideways every time he gets the bloody ball!! It’s really irritating, and he needs to stop doing that!

    1. Burrell’s 7 I think is deserved – think back to the autumn when Tomkins didn’t really do much wrong; Burrell for me still looks better, even without doing anything eye catching. Made his tackles, got over the gainline.

      Would also disagree about May’s running sideways – it can be dangerous if you get caught, but actually he’s so slippery that more often than not he finds half a gap and makes ground. He was second only to Brown in metres made (and this counts going forwards, not just in general). If you watch his highlight reel, a lot of his tries/assists start with a dart inside.

    2. Jacob, not often I would disagree with you, but;

      I think 7 is right for Burrell. He defended really well, in the last quarter in particular, when Ireland were looking to exploit the 13 channel he kept the defensive discipline really well. He also popped up on good, straight support lines on numerous occasions, to keep the Irish defence in check. It wasn’t a flashy performance but I suspect that teh England coaches would be as pleased with his display on Saturady, as either of the previous outings.

      May. A real curate’s egg. Should have scored twice, and the second opportunity in particular is worrying as it betrays a little lack of confidence in these situations. Sorry to say that this opportunity is one that I would expect Ashton to nail (I am not suggesting that I would prefer Ashton to May!). Running sideways. As a coach I would ordinarily agree with you on this. BUT, May is remarkably effective at actually finding the space when running sideways. He did so against Scotland, and he did so again yesterday. It is high risk, and it is not something that would be encouraged ordinarily, but he is able to get away with it, as he beats the advancing defence.

      1. Blub, you’ve nailed the May conundrum there. Always remember being coached not to run sideways, but May is so good at doing it then darting through a gap that more often than not it’s worth it.

      2. The Burrell one is probably just views on what each score means. 6 to me if the nothing flashy appearance, 7 for me is over and above that. Not really a big deal. I did think he defended very well and he was always offer himself as a runner to get you over the gainline. I actually really like him as a player.

        On May, I still don’t like it! I know he often makes breaks, which are great obviously. I still think he could be more effective with his skill and pace if he straightened slightly. Possibly harsh, but my main issue with his score was his missed try scoring opportunities. The running sideways of more of a personal thing that really gets on my nerves!

  3. Probably a point off for May and Wilson. For May, the good did not outweigh the missed opportunities. For Wilson, although he lasted very well aerobically and contributed around the park the scrum struggled badly on his side.

    An extra half mark for Lawes, thought his cover tackling against backs was excellent.

  4. Exactly what I said on the other article, this is full of 9s and 8s and they’re just not deserved. If you’re only going to give Jamie Roberts a 7.5 then you can’t in good faith give Robshaw an 8.5. Such ridiculous England bias.

    1. Don’t think this is fair at all. First of all the player ratings articles are written by different people, and it is always such a subjective affair that comparison is difficult. Secondly, there are three 8/9s in the Wales ratings, and four here – not that great a difference.

      I don’t think Roberts deserves a higher mark than Robshaw anyway. He made 40% of his tackles, and carried well but not as well as he has done in the past. Robshaw’s offload directly lead to England’s try, he topped the tackle stats across the weekend with 22, and was one of England’s standout players. 8.5 is well deserved.

      Also, I’m Scottish. So no English bias here.

      1. Hi Jamie,

        True, but then there are 3 x 6s here, and 8 in the Welsh ratings! I totally take your point about subjectivity, but I think there should be a (vague) sort of consistency across the board – obviously stats make up a large part of this, so there would never (for example) be a gap of 3 or 4 points between opinions.

        I agree, Roberts doesn’t deserve higher than Robshaw, but they both had great games. A lot of people have been saying that France were poor, and I agree, but that was a very strong Welsh team and the score reflected that – the England team that played Ireland were good and technically strong, but so were the Welsh, and the Welsh are the ones who’ve suffered in the player ratings.

        Anyway, not accusing you of purposively tweaking the scores or anything, I just think the Welsh were a little undervalued this week!

        1. I think there are a few of the Welsh ratings that are a touch on the low side (Jones and Ball), but it was an ugly stop/start game (WRU spend some of the money you aren’t giving to your regions on a hybrid or artificial pitch pls!). The perceived quality of the game skews the ratings a bit.

          England lost in Paris, but the ball was in play a record 46 mins and it was perceived as good quality game and this influences the ratings, but not through bias.

          1. Seriously Alan? It couldn’t just be massively superior opposition? You’ve never played your best game yet still got mullered?

              1. Classic Schopeneur rhetoric there Pablito and I’m not falling for it! :-). The original post said “no one”. I queried that. You then implied I meant France.

                Truthfully I think the truth is between the two – France were not as bad as non-Welsh fans have described yet clearly were not quality.

                We won. Pts in the bag. Roll on the big one. I’m happy that it has now become, over the last few years, a big one again that gets people so worked up.

      2. Well said Jamie. It may also be worth pointing out that Wales were playing a French team who were particularly poor on the day (as shown in their scores), which had nothing to do with Wales playing excellently (which they did). France were just awful, and were deservedly beaten by Wales.
        Ireland on the other hand played as well as they did in the first two games, but were narrowly beaten by a hard working England who ground out their victory in a very tough physical match.

  5. Not sure you could possibly compare the Wal vs Fra game to the Eng vs Ire one, you can only play what’s in front of you of course, but you can’t expect to pick up a high score when playing a very very poor side (unless you’re running in multiple tries from 50m out). Eng vs Ire was a hugely competitive game with neither side backing down, a far cry from the Wal vs Fra game.

    1. Dan, I can see one side of your argument i.e. you can’t rack up excellent player scores if you play a poor opposition. I disagree about that with regards to Fri night (whatever happened to the old “we forced them to play badly?” – by this rationale Wales were average last March in the 30-3 because of the shocking scoreline? We all know the truth was that Wales just blew England off the park … I think they did similar on Friday, but it is subjective).

      Anyway, back to the matter in hand, I disagree that a close competitive game means both sides played really well. I saw two sides playing some shocking stuff on Sat. It was a great game to watch but for me the ineptness on display by both sides at times is what kept it exciting – England left 3 MASSIVE try scoring chances go, which would have put them out of sight. May, even with it being a different scorer, should nowhere near get more pts than Cuthbert given his inability to score classic wingers tries and his confusion in defence. Nowell nearly let Ireland take the game away with that penalty. Farrel plays like an extra 2nd row and to me a defensive and hard rucking 10 is not impressive, especially when you butcher a stone cold try scoring chance by not doing what a 10 should do. Go and put on 5 stone if you want to be an extra forward.

      So for me an exciting and exhilarating game yes but not by virtue of the skill/intensity on display, more simply because generally poor back play kept the score close right to the end.

      I know the scores are subjective but they’re up there for us all to see and comment on, so that is what some of us are doing. Everything I have written here is also subjective (just imagine I’ve put IMO on the end of every sentence) so hopefully it’ll be argued against in that spirit i.e. argue against my points rather than whether I should or should not make them at all.

      1. Sounds to me like you’re suddenly feeling very cocky, Brighty. Nobody enjoys drummings like the Irl Wal, or Wal Fra games. That’s the point you just don’t seem to get. It’s because they both defended well against each other that these chances weren’t as “massive” as you say. Conor Murray’s fist punch to deny an earlier English try possibility was massive, which Trimble played a part in. England were better over all. I admit that. But it swung wildly, and there were a number of key moments for and against both teams. Momentum shifted like a wave, and if England didn’t hit back when they did, the momentum might not have swung back in their favour again. We just don’t know.

        “I know the scores are subjective but they’re up there for us all to see and comment on, so that is what some of us are doing.” Wow, you can read scores. Do enlighten us on your other gifts.

        The stats on the game are also subjectively available for comment Brighty. And that’s what’s interesting, the swings in possession and territory in particular. Tackles were made more in this game, versus missed more in other games.

        Notice that we’re not harping on about the Italy Scotland game, which seemed to feature too many missed tackles. That game was entertaining and close but not as intense imo.

        1. “I know the scores are subjective but they’re up there for us all to see and comment on, so that is what some of us are doing.” Wow, you can read scores. Do enlighten us on your other gifts.

          I think you have what we call “reading comprehension” issues. How you can turn that statement into something it isn’t mystifies me.

          “Nobody enjoys drummings like the Irl Wal, or Wal Fra games. That’s the point you just don’t seem to get.”

          Well, the Irish guys I was with when Wales played them seemed to enjoy it. I enjoyed last March a massive amount, so did the other 150,000 Welsh fans in Cardiff that day. What a daft generalisation.

          I also can’t see where I’m being cocky, I suspect it’s having the temerity to disagree with your or someone else’s viewpoint.

          I didn’t see the game the way you did – I saw England butcher 5 on 2s from just outside the tryline, as did a few other people on here. I saw May not run past 3 forwards with the tryline begging. I saw May step inside and have the ball knocked from him rather than use the 2 on 1 he was in. So I saw 3 Eng tries go begging. I see that in lots of matches and I call it poor play regardless of who is doing it. I also repeatedly said I enjoyed the game due to the closeness of the scores, a closeness created by England’s lack of chance taking.

          1. Whatever brighty. Sounds to me more like you have a closet rose-tinted uncle. We were 10-3 up at one point remember? Fair enough that you enjoy games that aren’t close. I don’t. I enjoy good defensive work. I really enjoyed the final of the last world cup for that reason. Apples and oranges I suppose. Let me go now and work on those reading comprehension issues of mine.

  6. I agree with others on May and Wilson. May massively disappointed me. Farrell should be 6 or 6.5.

    Brilliant overall performance by England on Saturday though, a real coming of age for some of the players. I was impressed at the brilliant defence and the low penalty count against us in kickable areas. Sexton had just the one kickable penalty. I was impressed with Mike Brown and the growing maturity of Jack Nowell (despite a couple of mistakes – I think he was better than May), Danny Care, Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes were outstanding.

    I was at the game, and sat in a very good position to spot the main issues with Saturday’s performance. Some have already been covered here.

    Firstly, Farrell and his kicking: we should have gone into half time 9-0 up. He missed one kick and turned down another. That simply isn’t good enough.

    Farrell’s attacking play and vision: in the passage of play running up to Jonny May’s dropped “try”, there was a clear overlap for several minutes of 5 vs 2. Farrell was in a prime position to spot this, and as no.10, should have demanded the ball, dictated the play and spread it out wide immediately. I’ve since seen the replays on TV to confirm his positioning was perfect to make such a call. This passage included, he was outdone by Sexton in every way, showing a complete lack of inventiveness in attack.

    Now Jonny May: he should have scored the dropped “try”, but he showed immaturity in not securing the ball properly when diving for the line. He should have arguably shipped it out to Nowell, but his eyes were bulging and he wanted the glory.

    May seems afraid of running straight or going into contact. Twice he caught the ball in the 22 and quickly flung it away to Mike Brown – on one occasion literally at Mike Brown’s chest. He had two clear opportunities to run for the line – one which had “try” written all over it – and on both occasions dodged inside instead. It would have been better if he’d have backed himself and gone for it, even if he was pushed into touch. The coaches need to have a word. His big, lateral/looping runs are fine for junior rugby, but you can’t get away with that on the international stage.

    1. Most of the English guys I know harp on about Flood at 10. I admit Sexton had a shocker, not really offering anything in attack and botching a restart that led to the English try, But if you play Flood ahead of Farrell next year, I’ll be licking my lips. Goode ahead of Brown and I’ll be positively salivating.

  7. I agree it’s all subjective and am partly swayed that the team that wins in an evenly matched game probably gets an extra few marks because they have triumphed almost in adversity . Having said that making a side that the bookies had as favourites look c**p must be worth something too .

    I get the total England player marks including subs at 118 and Wales at 110 (it’s lunchtime and I’m bored ) so that’s about half a point a man better which I can live with for now .I can’t be bothered to look but I have the feeling that the Irish players marks were a bit higher than this total for their humbling of Wales whose performance if anything was a couple of degrees worse than the French on Friday .

    Brown and Lanchbury were excellent by the way and Jiffy made a good point about the English try being made by Harlequins ,I think to get to the next level the England backs need to get “joined up ” a lot more in this fashion .

  8. As a Welshman that was the first time I’ve REALLY REALLY wanted England to win. I was just left infuriated by the play of their backline. I can now understand everything that has been said previously bemoaning them. There were at least 3 tries butchered on Saturday. How SCW can claim this English side to be ‘special’ is beyond me. WIP is far more appropriate.

    I will give praise on the win, but England should have been out of sight in that match, not just clinging on for the win.

    Really looking forward to the Welsh visit to Twickers now..

    I’d give England the edge in defence & the lineouts, Wales the edge in attack and the scrums (based on the corbs/cole injuries). Lets hope it’s a cracker!

    1. Agreed, that game looks like THE game of the tournament now. Looking at the lineups, for the first time in a while I could see a few English players taking the spots in a combined Welsh/English team starting with … hush … can’t say it … Brown ousts Halfpenny right now.

    2. Totally agree with your comments Anarky, however as an England supporter, I am enthused by the problems.

      England did well to beat a good, experienced Irish side who were by no means playing badly (though i think they miss the strength of SOB on the carry and a bit of speed in the backline)

      When you consider that England left 2, perhaps tries on the pitch and should have perhaps beaten Ireland by 10 or more points it shows that they are by no means a finished article. The question is then, how good might they be once they’ve got some experience under their belts?

      This of course assumes that they can rectify the problems, but given that between them, the centres and the wingers have a mere 20 or so caps (half of whcih belong to 12Ts) I’d like to think that they will improve from here

      1. I see what you’re saying Pablito, and anybody can be forgiven the odd try butchering. Normally I wouldn’t give a jot, and as it worked out 3 points was the perfect scoreline for a Welsh fan, but it was far from certain and left me frustrated that England hadn’t secured their position.

        It got me thinking as well about what I’ve read here in months gone about the English backline, which I’ve given little thought to as I’m more concerned with Wales naturally.

        Apart from the 3 tries they left out there against Ireland today, there was that effort against Italy last year (the 3 on 1) which inexplicably went begging, and i’m sure if I had more time could drag up a few other examples.

        That was over 12 months ago.. the chopping and changing of the centres/wings, and the continual missed opportunities seems to suggest that they’re no better off now than they were 12 months ago. 18 months out from the WC he really has to start sticking with a settled backline, and maybe this is the start of it.

        However, having said all that England are by far and away the best team at finding a way to win. Going in to this campaign they had only lost 2 matches in the previous 2 campaigns, and when you think about the chances that have gone begging, is remarkable which ties in with your final comments. If they ever find a way to finish consistently then it conjures all sorts of images I don’t want to think about. May the try butchery continue long in to the future! :)

        1. That god-awful butchered try against Italy was the product of Alex Goode and Toby Flood – a fair few caps more than May and Nowell! So I guess experience isn’t everything

          Re chopping and changing, quite a lot has been forced with injuries to the centres and the wings which can’t be avoided.

          Last year we were hoping we’d get Yarde and Wade on the wings – instead we’ve ended up with Nowell and May, who were only just on people’s radar. They’ve only had 3 games and whilst they’ve made errors, they’ve also done some good things and seem to be improving game on game.

          Hopefully everything will miraculously click on the 9th of March and exactly 15:00 and England will start running in tries for fun…

        2. Frustratingly Anarky we would have been much better off if England had tinker them as then their pts diff would be down with ours and then we at least would have things in our own hands.

    3. I’m not sure any England supporter is happy with points left on the park, BUT if you’d told me 3 months ago that we had a backline without Foden, Tuilagi, Wade and Yarde that was creating chances, I would have been delighted. It just didn’t seem possible. Just remember that we have only just moved on from the creative excellence of Barritt, Tomkins and bad Ashton! Therefore most of us English supporters are delighted to have this problem! Also for all the moaning about our wings, I saw two very inexperienced internationals make silly mistakes, but also do good things on the pitch. They will grow out of the mental errors when they settle more. I give you Courtenay Lawes as an example of this. All the potential but always making silly mistakes. Now much more consistent. So pleasantly happy overall. Still think Wales will win in 2 weeks. Jamie Roberts v 12Ts tackling – worrying! Once again hitting form at the right/wrong time!

      1. I couldn’t call a welsh win. As others have said England missed easy chances and still won. That will take them a long way. Centres for Wales are a big worry. I have a ticket. My 1st HQ visit. It’s too much to think that it might be a great one?

  9. I think the scores are about right. I won’t drop Farrell a mark as his defence was good. (I will again argue the idea to play him at 12, and Ford at 10!)

    People slating the choice to kick to touch in the first half, as a kicker you know if you’re going to make it or not. It was tight, and not the best position for a right footed kicker, after the previous two shots, he knew what his limits were. Besides If we’d scored from the lineout no-one would be complaining!!

    I won’t say May’s sideways running bothers me, it might when he gets caught, what bothered me was his lack of taking the outside line. The worst it would have resulted in was an Irish lineout, that we would have pressured, but he’s supposed to be one of the fastest wingers in England, and should have had the confidence to go for it.

    Perhaps it was his inexperience and the lingering thought that if he was tackled we could recycle and go from there. Who knows, but it should be addressed this week.

    Killer instinct should have taken over.

    1. Sounds to me like the real question you are really asking is, “Why wasn’t this game more like the Wal V Fra game?” It wash’t .. Nothing really else to add. Sexton is being blamed in part for the Irish loss, but at least we’re more humble in defeat than you are in victory. Enjoy your win and stop whining. It’s bad enough we actually have to lose to you..

      1. “we’re more humble in defeat than you are in victory. Enjoy your win and stop whining. It’s bad enough we actually have to lose to you.”

        How can you be anything other than “humble” in defeat? Who is ever the opposite of humble in defeat?

        1. Yeah, clearly you’re not cocky in defeat… Jees, any more observations you care to make. It’s not like I’m bitter or sore about the defeat..it was a fair result.

  10. I have not seen at any point a Ref rating and in this I would include Touch Judges or Assistant Refs as they are now to be known.
    In an age where these folks now have slo-mo and a 4th referee to whom to refer the ability to spot misfeasance is still woefully lacking to which must be added an alarming inconsistency of approach not even between games but intra games themselves.

    Joubert has always been highly suspect in my view: arrogant but without a feel for the game and entirely ignorant of the dynamics of the scrum, ruck and maul.

    He does not regularly switch sides at the put-in nor instruct his assistant to mark the relevant activity leading to that woeful “miss” of the hand in the scrum that cost Ireland so much.

    The Farrell shoulder charge was as clear as day and did not diminish after increasing repeats and a penalty should have been accompanied by a Yellow or not given.

    The put in by Care was always suspect and always ignored and Best can at least attempt a hook whereas Hartley has not yet mastered this elementary but vital skill set.

    46 highly paid and passionate athletes perform for millions of viewers and these fellows , now aided by huge technological advantages simply cannot keep up with all the other advances. Towards the end of the match I thought that the much maligned draw was perhaps a fitting end to a wonderful Rugby match and it should , by rights, have been so.

    TMOs and other benefits exist for the very reason that the modern professional game has outgrown the simple “final arbiter” dictum but why has there been a diminution of refereeing skill as a corollary?

    1. StClair99, what exactly did the ref do wrong? Which call was wrong and further did any of them affect the result? My point is that I do not recall any contentious decisions? The shoulder charge was a 50/50 thing, I’d have sent him off but it wasn’t clear cut.

      Best being a better “hooker” than Hartley is nothing to do with the ref.

    2. You’re crazy St.Clair99. Joubert is the ONLY ref. I wouldn’t have replaced with a robotic chimp. Even Owens who is probably the next best has made woeful mistakes.

  11. Sexton looked to have been concussed -or close- from about the 55th minute and joe Schmidt does seem to have allowed his high regard for JS to overrule his head. A jackson or Madigan substitution would have been preferred to the slow deterioration of a fine player.

    The English back row did a fine job in meeting much vaunted opposition head-on but the scrum dominance should have resulted in either more penalties or indeed a yellow card such was the difference between front rows.

    Care was allowed too many clear feeds into the scrum – for any younger reader “feeding” the scrum as Mr Butler puts it , is an infringement. The wheeling -penalty against ireland was a travesty and Joubert was for the umpteenth time a catalyst for switching the momentum of the game.

    1. St Clair. Not sure if I agree with your other points, but I also thought Sexton looked slightly concussed. Thought it was just me.

  12. I would welcome an explanation as to how a shoulder charge can ever be “a 50/50” thing given that there can only ever be a single aggressor in such situations. The act itself is flagrant at all times , the “tackler” , usually late, simply leads with a shoulder and does not even attempt to wrap arms around the body. In many situations the “tackled” man has his arms raised having passed or -as in this case- having completed a relieving kick. Clive Woodward calls this “edge” but this is a self -serving analysis.
    If it is deemed a penalty the recommendation is Yellow. I do not believe that a discretionary element prevails at this time.

    The wheel call was wrong as for the wheel to exist Mike Ross would have had to be viewed as stepping back a step whilst Cian Healy charged forward. This was absolutely not the case as even the sainted Mr Moore observed. England were awarded a penalty.

    Finally “slo.mo” captured the Neil Back moment when an English hand hooked the ball back into the scrum offside of Joubert but clearly in line-of-sight of the Assistant Referee who remained supine. You will recall that I opened my post by reference to all 3 on-field arbiters of the game.

    1. I do to some degree agree with these but it’s swings an roundabouts with some missed decisions. The shoulder charge is a judgement call from the ref on wether to card or not, and the everyone knows how difficult the scrum is to judge perfectly. All it takes is one moment of looking up to check the offside lines, or the opposite side of the scrums binding and the hand can be missed.

      1. Tackling without attempting to use the arms is a shoulder charge. It is beyond question that this is what Farrell did. The sanction for such foul play is a yellow card. It is beyond question. Joubert is always slow to go for the card and England benefitted again when Lawes held on blatantly in the red zone, whilst Ireland did likewise with a similar offence under the posts. Joubert’s reffing of the scrum was a joke. If England had had that level of ascendancy and got so little from it their fans would have been apoplectic.

        That said, England were good value for their win. Their pack was outstanding and as a whole they were extremely well drilled. If Lancaster had the nerve to pick Ford at 10, England would surely have taken advantage of two huge overlaps which Farrell ignored and they could have won by a margin.

        1. No Paddy, it is not beyond question that he attempted to do it without arms. It is beyond question that was what happened, but is not beyond question whether that was what he attempted or whether it was just a clumsy tackle. That is what the ref decides on and it is why it is not an inarguable yellow card. It’s an interpretation based on lots of factors, not what you wanted to see happen. Just like POM didn’t get a yellow card for tackling May round the head – that was deemed unintentional as well.

    2. It’s a tough game with split second decisions to make. Sometimes a ref will deem the charge as clumsy rather than intentional and decide to give a penalty only. It’s not clear that it’s a yellow – yellow is for dangerous play, cynical fouling, etc. In this case looks like the ref decided it was a simple foul – neither premeditated nor dangerous. So it is within the rules for it to be just a penalty and hence in my mind a 50/50 call as how can anyone truly know whether he meant to hit him like that? Personally I’d have binned him but I couldn’t say the ref was 100% wrong not to.

      However, why all this focus on the officials? What, in terms of affecting the score/result/enjoyment of the match, did they get wrong?

      For some reason all of your issues seem to be with English “fouls”? I saw a fair few dodgy Irish moves go unpunished as well.

    3. Did POM take May round the head (on May’s route to not scoring a try)? Looked like it to me, maybe being dazed was the reason he dropped it! Did POC hold in Launchbury to create the space for Kearney? Yes!

      Not disagreeing with all the points you are making, but there were crucial non-decisions that didn’t go England’s way as well. Arguably to the cost/loss of more points.

  13. Agree with all of Brighty’s points.

    Additionally it is sad that this subject mater is even aired. It is better off left to the round ball game, where it seems to have become to norm.

  14. France weren’t made to look bad. They were bad. Much like Wales in the first half of the Ireland game. Wales played much better against France it’s easy to look good against poor opposition.

  15. St.claire99-how do you feel O’Connell should have been dealt with for his dubious part in the Ireland try?

  16. Just rewatching, if we want to pull up Wood for hands in the scrum, then we’ll need to ping POM first, for breaking off the scrum, first offence should have given England a penalty.

  17. Thanks Chaps

    It does seem in this game of “split second decisions’ there is a crying need for referees to have every assistance at each phase of the game. We could call them Assistant referees to replace the old fashioned Touch judges we used to know; they could be empowered to watch the blind side of scrums for binding infringements and such or even confer with the hard-pressed referees in time of confusion over forward passes and offside decisions.

    Hang on– we have them already and I believe they are so empowered. So why don’t they act and why does the eejit in the middle not seek out their advice and ‘ eyes on” in times of confusion?

    To simply say that such cavilling is a “round ball’ response is just refusal to look at the issue and the failure of the authorities to keep up with the pace of this wonderful game.

    1. Padraig, I had to look up the verb “cavilling”. I think that the use of this verb (according to the internet definition) reinforces my feeling that this is creeping too much toward the round ball game. There was an interesting article in The Times recently that opined that there is a culture in Football of always looking to blame the ref before looking at the players, teams or other circumstances.

      The truth is that in all sports, the players make far more mistakes than the referee, and despite popular opinion to the contrary, the referee errors rarely affect the result of the game as much as a missed tackle, mis-placed pass etc, etc

      The problem that Football has, is that blaming the ref first is endemic. You only need to look at throw-ins and corners. It is very, very rare that the decision is not challenged, both in the stands and on the pitch, even when the decision is very clear. Players and fans do this now out of habit, and it is cheating. The players are trying to fool the ref.

      We do want this in rugby, and whilst we can believe that comments on internet forums such as this make no difference, the truth is that many people on here have a deeper involvement in the game, and if we accept this “blame the ref” approach to be deemed acceptable, then it will creep into the actual game. I see it, at low levels on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings every week.

      Some may believe wholeheartedly and genuinely that the refs are fair game for criticism, and that their perceived errors can be the cause of results going one way or another, but the truth is that most refs, and certainly those at this level, make very little difference to the results. It is wholly wrong to suggest otherwise.

  18. Well said Padraig57. Referees increasingly appear out of depth and often clueless.They do need help in the way you mentioned.It’s also time for ref’s to start showing yellow cards to gobby and ill disciplined players.Think football…..

    1. Always used to be! Haven’t seen a ref do that in an international for ages. Am assuming that it is still an option. PoM must have been close in the Welsh match!

      1. Wales were marched back 10 for Phillips being gobby in the match against Ireland. Well deserved it was too.

        1. Missed that one – can’t agree more though, be it Phillips, Brown, Picamoles, PoM or whoever. It’s the one sanction that keeps rugby on the right side of the line.

  19. For me the the problem with all of this deep concern for the game is that it looks nothing of the sort when it’s on an eng v ire match discussion and all voiced by Irish fans. Unfortunately when you’ve lose any mention of the ref does, and I mean this literally, sound like whining. Sounds like ie in the ear of the beholder. You may not be whining. You may genuinely have a deep concern about the standard of refereeing and how it may hurt the game. But to only voice those concerns on a forum discussing the match that your team lost takes away all of the power from your argument.

  20. Brighty

    Just a warning – there is another guy on another blog ( Blood and Mud) calling hinself “Brighty” who just a while ago wrote this: ” SHIT: That Owen Farrel can do nothing that will get him sin binned. Nothing.”

    Clearly a very different fellow but it’s good to be aware of the namesake unless readers on this blog were to believe that you are a tad inconsistent in your beliefs!


    1. Oh wow, a tad inconsistent. Call the Irish Internet Police.

      If you read B&M carefully you might realise its a “take the p***” kind if website. The very title of the article you quoted should have made that clear. Hence the irreverent nature of my comment there.

      I have repeatedly said here that I would have binned Farrell. I can also see why Joubert did not. There is no inconsistency here, just you clutching at straws to make an argument beyond just whining about the ref.

    2. Not as mealy mouthed as an Irish player trying to fish hook an English player and then whining to the ref that his finger has been bitten. Seriously I’m no Hartley apologist but if you’re going to play dirty, then have the good grace to take your medicine if your opponent plays dirty too, not go telling tales to teacher. Irish moaning is getting intolerable.

      I don’t agree that you can never moan about a ref, win or lose, but I thought both team got the benefit of some soft decisions and I’m hard pressed to see how Joubert influenced the result.

  21. Ref. Personally thought Farrell was going to get 10 mins, but have seen them not given too. Other than that some decisions went one way, and I sat there thinking we were lucky and others went the other way, and I thought that wasn’t fair, but it all evened out and actually I got to the end of the game thinking it all evened out, and didn’t have an effect on the result which is what you want from a ref, isn’t it…………?

  22. After hearing that Billy V is out for the rest of the tournament, is anyone else worried SL will play Morgan (not an 80 minute player), and then have Johnson or Kvesic on the bench and move Wood to 8 when Morgan gets knackered?
    I really hope I’m wrong after the shocking display last year (not Wood’s fault). I would personally rather see another 8 brought in. Dickinson or Ewers should be moved from the Saxons to cover. For me Wood or Robshaw should NOT be an option to cover the 8 spot. Nothing against Johnson or Kvesic, both are very good players (I am more of a Johnson fan), and would be happy for them to replace Wood or Robshaw if they were injured, but not as injury cover for an 8!!!!!

    1. Completely agree with you here! Do the EPS rules state that he has to pick EPS players if they’re fit though? Meaning he has to pick one of Johnson or Kvesic? I might be wrong on that.

      Really don’t want to see Wood at 8 ever again, IMO it cost him a Lions place, class act.

      1. You may be right there Jacob, but I think he can bring another player in as injury cover. And as Johnson and Kvesic or already in the EPS, my understanding is he could choose to move someone else into the EPS, i.e. from the Saxons squad? The thought of Morgan going off and Wood then shifting to 8 for the last 20 minutes against Wales is just a nightmare!!

        1. I would much rather see Dickinson or Ewers bought in for the bench. Not sure which of them I’d choose though

          Out of Ksevic and Johnson, have either of them played 8?

        2. Hmm, it is an interesting quandary for England.

          Rather than bringing in Johnson or Kvesic, one would have thought they needed another heavy ball carrier as having 80 mins of Billy and Ben is clearly part of the game plan. An important part.

          Not sure who this would be though.

          Very interested to see Launchbury switch to 6 on Saturday. I will go out on a limb here and suggest that they will bring in Ed Slater onto the bench in place of Attwood alongside Kvesic/Johnson (probably Johnson).

          Tough on Attwood, but I think they would like to see Slater taking on the carrying duties from Morgan, with Launchbury at 8.

          1. Incidentally, the RFU website has Slater on marginally heavier than both Launchbury and Parling, and all at the same height. This may be right, but Slater always looks considerably bulkier to me.

    2. In complete agreement. For an impact role off the bench I would prefer Dickinson to Ewers, think he’s got a bit more pace and better hands, but either is preferable to seeing Wood cover 8 again.

      I suspect there won’t even be another player called into the squad and Kvesic or Johnson will get the nod on a “who is the next form pick” criteria. Adding Dickinson or Ewers to the squad seems like a sensible precaution should Morgan pick up a knock and with a longer term view of integrating more players that are likely to tour in the summer.

  23. I actually think this is exactly what he will do, his comments this week seemed to lean that way with no mention of an 8 rather the two stated already. I was hoping he thought that experiment went as badly as everyone else did but maybe not!!!

    Bring back easter!!!

  24. Also I was wondering if anyone else felt eastmond and Watson may have played themselves into team to face wales at the expense of either wing and 36?

    1. I would certainly think Watson may have played his way into the 23 shirt. But Eastmond is a tricky one. 36 put in a serious defensive shift against Ireland, and although Eastmond is more of a threat going forward, he would need to work very hard against Robert and North! And that is why I think SL will stick with 36.
      Now the Italy game, I would put both of them in and see what happens.

      1. I can’t imagine that Lancaster would drop 36 at this point. However for me, he is a weak point in this England team

        He made 14 tackles on Sat but missed 4, mostly on BOD. He’ll be up against an in form Roberts next and that missed tackle count is only going to increase unless he gets it sorted out

        Also for a supposedly ball-playing inside centre he tries to run the ball at the oppo far too much without being alive to the possibilities outside him and when he does pass the quality of the pass is quite often poor

        I would prefer to see Eastmond given a shot in the 12 shirt but cannot imagine he will get one against Wales

    2. Watson for me is still prone to decision making errors from full back, when to kick, when not to kick etc. Yes he is very talented, but I’d be surprised to see him in the Welsh game.

      Eastmond just worries me defensively. I know he has awesome feet, and has not even necessarily been shown to have a poor defense, but he gives away 30kg to Jamie Roberts (110kg vs 80kg). I don’t care what your technique is, if Roberts runs down that channel all day, physics says he breaks a lot of tackles.

      For the Wales game, the 23 wouldn’t change much. Yarde on the wing for Nowell, who moves to the 23 shirt. Morgan in for Vunipola with Ewers on the bench.

      1. Eastmond doesn’t miss many tackles, but he’s not going to be dropping the likes of Roberts on the gainline either.

        I don’t think 36 has been brilliant and is probably the one to go when Tuliagi gets back (Burrell moving to 12) but I wouldn’t change anything for the next game. I’m frustrated Eastmond hasn’t had a chance since the summer, as well as the pace and crazy feet he’s a better passer of a ball than anyone in the current 23. Coming on when defences are tired, carrying the ball in both hands he looks like a defenders worst nightmare, is he going to burn them on the outside, make them look stupid with some footwork, or just move the ball away? Criminal we’ve not been trying to find a way to utilise someone so unique and special.

        1. Completely agree that Eastmond is an incredible talent, and it’s obvious SL likes him, but isn’t sure of what to make of him.

          He can’t start at 12 on the international, for reasons stated above. I don’t care how great your feet or hands are, you can not stand opposite someone you are giving away 30kg to.

          But he plays 12 for his club, and is considered at 12. So does he pick him in the squad knowing he can never be more than a 23 shirt? Or does he try him elsewhere? Doesn’t make much sense when he doesn’t play there for his club.

          As I said, incredible talent, I just don’t know what we should do with him!

          1. Eastmond is underrated as a defender, 28/12/13 was the last time he missed a tackle, since then he’s 31 made and missed 0 in 4 premiership games.

            He’s not going to be blasting people backwards, but don’t think he’s a liability.

            I would be quite happy to see him tried as a ‘specialist 23’ for England though.

            1. As I said in another post, I don’t think that Eastmond is a poor defender at all, and those stats back that up.

              But this is not Premiership level. How many of those Premiership games has he had a 110kg Jamie Roberts running at him for 80 minutes? None. I’m not saying he’ll miss every tackle, I’m just saying that physics says his body can not withstand a bunch of strong carries right at him from Roberts throughout a game. We’d also essentially give Wales an excellent platform at Roberts is more than likely going to break the gain line, tackled or not, for most of his carries.

              On being a ‘specialist 23’, it’s a strange one. I’d much rather have a sub that can come on a genuinely be pushing for a starting spot, if SL doesn’t believe he can do that, then not picking him is justified.

  25. Fair points and I reckon a 30kg difference may cause a problem in defence but 36 misses nearly a 25% of his anyway! Just think sometimes should be more about what we can do to them than the other way round.

    Don’t think either wing has done enough to not worry about wade and yarde coming back to fitness. Thought Watson did enough at weekend to be in with a shout.

    Would really like to see a few fringe players like eastmond get a chance but I see the reasoning of waiting for the Italy game.

    1. I see what you mean, but Roberts is a world class defensive 12, I don’t think you’ll see Eastmond dance round him. The 12 channel internationally is a congested area, even someone of Eastmonds talent will struggle to dance round players consistently there.

      1. All very true Jacob, but if Wales showed a defensive weakness against France it was with North defending at 13 – Bastareaud made a couple of breaks due to it but because he runs as if the pitch is covered with treacle, nothing came of them

        If it were someone with the speed of Eastmond making those breaks, the result may well have been different

        1. Plus with a championship that is likely to go down to points difference I’d rather have one if Yarde/Eastmond or Watson on the bench than Goode.

  26. Jacob

    Interesting you mention ewers for a bench spot – have you heard that somewhere or just what you would like to see? I have a feeling wood will play last 20 there!!

    1. Absolutely no facts to base that on at all, in fact, I’d be surprised if it was anyone outside of Johnson or Kvesic. I just don’t understand why we need a 6 or 7 on the bench, when Launchbury covers 6 and Morgan can’t last 80.

    1. Apparently Kvesic has played u 20 and for Worcester at 8, would follow in Dallaglio and Hill’s shoes as sevens who moved across the backrow. But I don’t see why Morgan can’t last 80, he’s much fitter and slimmer than he used to be.

      1. I’m pretty sure that Morgan never plays 80 minutes for Gloucester. Don’ know whether that’s due to his fitness or if they just prefer to bring him off and get some fresh legs on. But if he doesn’t play 80 minutes at Premiership level, the chances of him lasting (effectively) at international level are slim.
        Vunipola has played 80 minutes regularly for Sarries this season. Sometimes starting at 6, and then moving to 8, and sometimes playing 80 minutes at 8.

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